Elliott Williams misstates rather badly!

FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2019

His namesake just sits there and lets him:
William Barr has made some weird presentations with respect to the Mueller probe, or at least he has seemed to do so.

Then too, we have the pundits. Consider a presentation by Elliott Williams on last evening's 11th Hour.

Brian Williams asked Elliott Williams, a former federal prosecutor (aren't they all?), to comment on Barr's testimony. We were struck by the lack or professionalism Brian received in reply.

Elliott Williams is plainly quite bright, but he's performing partisan cable punditry at a highly tribal time. Below, you see Brian Williams' question, and the start of his namesake's reply:
BRIAN WILLIAMS (5/2/19): What stood out to you from Barr yesterday?

ELLIOTT WILLIAMS: I think just the wordsmithing. I think there was a lot of, you know—so for instance, not being able to answer the question from Kamala Harris, which was the one kill-shot of the day yesterday, sort of where she drew blood.

With not being able to answer the question, "Has the President directed"—I don't want to get the wording precisely right—wrong. Has the President directed you to investigate anybody, or whatever the wording was. And of course, he tried to parse it and wordsmith it a little bit.
"Has the President directed you to investigate anybody, or whatever the wording was?" Elliott Williams was describing the most striking moment from the long hearing, and he didn't seem real sure concerning what Barr had been asked!

So it may tend to go on channels like MSNBC, where (quite literally) no guest ever appears in prime time except those who agree with, and will repeat, the prevailing company line.

And sure enough! As Elliott Williams continued, so did his confusion. By the time he was done, he had seemed to misstate what Barr had been asked; he had made a false accusation against Barr; and he had flatly misstated something Barr clearly said. This is all part of an evening's work on a fully partisan channel:
ELLIOTT WILLIAMS (continuing directly): Based what we know about this President and how he has incorrectly treated his political adversaries, it seems undeniable that the President would have asked, or at least intimated or suggested or hinted, all of these wordsmithing words, that, you know, that the Attorney General go after his opponents. We've seen instances of this with Whitaker, with Barr—pardon me, not with Barr yet, but with Whitaker and with Attorney General Sessions.

So it seems undeniable that the President would have asked that. And I think Barr trying to sort of slip into lawyer mode—you know, "What did you mean by suggest, Senator Harris?"—was a little bit too cute by half, I think.
Below, we'll show you the text of the full Q-and-A in question. But that was a terrible presentation by Williams. It helps us see where fully partisan "cable news" can take us.

First, a note on those "wordsmithing words." Rather plainly, Williams suggested, then said, that Barr had introduced such words—intimated, suggested and hinted—in an attempt to avoid answering a direct question about whether he has been asked to conduct investigations of anyone.

In fact, the only "wordsmithing words" in play were introduced by Senator Harris. In her original question, she asked Barr if Trump or anyone else at the White House had "asked or suggested" that Barr investigate anyone. As the exchange went along, she introduced two other words—"hinted" and "intimated."

Barr introduced no other words. He spoke to the two words with which he'd been confronted—"asked" and "suggested." No other words appeared in his remarks.

In that sense, Williams seemed to make a false claim about the introduction of wordsmithed words. Having noted that, let's go to the original question Barr was asked: Has anyone at the White House asked or suggested that he investigate anyone?

Has anyone at the White House asked Barr to conduct an investigation? Plainly, Williams suggested that Barr was trying to avoid that question by introducing all those "wordsmithed words."

In fact, Barr directly answered that question. He flatly said that no one has asked him to investigate anyone.

We don't know if that's true or false. But Barr did make that plain assertion, and Williams plainly suggested that he didn't—indeed, that he tried to avoid such a statement by introducing all those words.

Barr flatly said that no one has asked him to conduct an investigation. Later, he seemed to be saying that no one has suggested that he do so, but Harris cut him off.

There was nothing wrong with Senator Harris' questions. Everyone is free to judge Barr's answer. But Williams' presentation last night was just flat-out bogus.

He didn't seem to know what Barr had been asked. He didn't seem to be aware of something Barr flatly said.

He implied that Barr had introduced a bunch of additional "wordsmithing words." We're sorry, but that didn't happen.

Elliott Williams made bogus remarks. Brian Williams just sat there and took it. When corporate channels go totally tribal, that's how the tribe will be served.

The full exchange: Below, you see the full exchange between Harris and Barr:
HARRIS (5/1/19): Attorney General Barr, has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?

BARR: I wouldn't—I wouldn't—

HARRIS: Yes or no?

BARR: Could you repeat that question?

HARRIS: I will repeat it. Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no please, sir?

BARR: The president or anybody else?

HARRIS: Seems you'd remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR: Yeah, but I'm trying to grapple with the word "suggest." I mean, there have been discussions of, of matters out there that— They have not asked me to open an investigation, but—

HARRIS: Perhaps they have suggested?

BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest—

HARRIS: Hinted?

BARR: I don't know.

HARRIS: Inferred? You don't know? Okay.
Barr said no to "asked," seemed to be saying no to "suggested." The "wordsmithed words" are fine, but they're offered by Harris, not Barr.

Is that how Williams functioned in court? To watch the exchange, just click here.


  1. Slightly off topic, but I recommend reading the letter from Trump's lawyer regarding the Mueller Report at https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5986068/WHSC-to-AG-4-19-19.pdf

    1. mm - the Mueller Report was indeed released. I haven't read the 400 pages, but they're available. The public version of the Report has some necessary redactions, but a less redacted version is available to Congress. Barr has already fully testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee for around 4 hours of questioning. Barr has said he has no objection to Mueller testifying. The public is now privy to everything in the Mueller Report.

      P.S. Nadler is playing games. Nadler doesn't expect to learn anything more from Barr. He knows that Barr will testify if normal House procedures are followed.

    2. Barr doesn't dictate normal House procedures.

    3. Remember when Right-wingers used to deny that they would sell the country out cheap in exchange for white supremacy? Thank dog Trump, Barr and McConnell came along to disprove that.

    4. David, there ain't nothing fucking normal anymore. Firing the FBI Director and then forcing the DAG to fabricate of phony cause for the firing after the FBI Director refused to bend a knee to King Kingshit ain't fucking normal. Just because anti-democratic fascists like yourself don't mind, doesn't make it normal. Then firing the AG because he refused to "unrecuse" himself and installing a clearly partisan biased political hack in his stead ain't fucking normal, you fucking Nazi, That's not the country I want to live in. So go fuck yourself, you treasonous lying sack of shit bastard. Go away, don't you have some black voters to suppress somewhere?

      The public is most certainly not privy to everything in the Mueller report and that is not the point. My Article 1 Representatives are entitled to see the entire report which Coverup Billy Barr is concealing. And we know why also, because Coverup Billy Barr doesn't want anyone watching as he undercuts the other 12 ongoing investigations, and he doesn't have the integrity or shame to recuse himself from overseeing them.

    5. Barr will testify if normal House procedures are followed.

      Sure, Coverup Billy would be happy to come in and continue to obfuscate and perjure himself just as long as he knows each member only gets 5 minutes to question him and he is clearly expert and not answering questions and filibustering the time.

      Too bad Dr. Ford didn't get such "normal" proceedings during the rapist Kavanaugh SC confirmation hearings. It's always heads you win, tails we lose with you guys.

      Hey, you treasonous bastard, you must be very excited now that Coverup Billy is investigating the investigation of the investigation of the investigation of the investigation of those scandalous Secretary of State emails. Go fuck yourself, why don't you move to Florida, I see they just passed a pol tax, that's your kind of place, eh, you racist prick?

    6. mm - as you know, Mueller and his staff worked with Barr in determining what was required to be redacted. Is Mueller part of the coverup, too? I don't think so.

    7. IMHO the Mueller team were the ones trying to tilt public opinion at the outset. They wrote a summary that included harsh criticisms of Trump. Barr may have seen through their tactic. Anyhow, he squelched it by providing a justifiable summary of his own. Barr’s summary was fair. It neither praised nor criticized Trump. It provided the key findings, which we were all eager to learn.

    8. Now you're just being silly. Mueller outlined 10 examples of obstruction of justice and Barr told Trump what he wanted to hear.

    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    10. Corrected version of deleted comment:

      The proper response to Mueller's letter is "Duh!" How could a 4 page summary of conclusions fully capture the context, nature, and substance of the SP's work and conclusions? The only document that would do that was the Report itself, which was released a couple of weeks later, as soon as necessary minor redactions were done.

      What the Barr summary did do was to provide what the public was eagerly waiting for: Mueller's key findings.

    11. Even with the redactions, it's hard to read the Mueller Report and not come away with the understanding that the Republican Party is a criminal enterprise.

  2. “Barr said no to "asked,"

    Uh huh.

    He emphasized the word “asked” (that’s why it’s in italics in the transcript). To a normal English speaker, that implies a subtext that prevented Barr from simply saying “no.” (Perhaps he was *ordered*? And how can he not know whether it was hinted at?) It is obvious that Barr is being evasive. He will balk at any and all possible characterizations offered by the questioner and never offer any clear explanations as to the truth.

    1. Somerby trying to pussyfoot around Barr getting demolished by Harris, hilarious. Sure, Bob, nobody will pick up on how sleazy and corrupt Barr is, good luck with that.

      Somerby has dementia.

  3. Possible Question to Barr: What sorts of discussions did you have with the White House about opening on investigation on someone?

    Barr: I’m grappling with the word “discussions.” We didn’t have *discussions*, but...

    Questioner: Describe the interactions you had with the White House surrounding investigations they wanted opened?

    Barr: Again, “interactions”, I am struggling with that term, as well as “surrounding”. I don’t know.

    Somerby: Barr said “no discussions.” ya dumb tribal libs.

  4. "Elliott Williams misstates"?

    You're misstating, Bob. Your gobbelsian establishment zombie-media don't misstate, they lie, brainwash, indoctrinate.

    7x24, week after week, month after month, year after year.

  5. "It seems undeniable"

    It seems undeniable?

    I can't wait to vote for Trump again and I voted for Obama.

    1. I can't wait until you die from the toxins Trump's EPA allows your corporate masters to spew into the atmosphere and your drinking water. Don't let anyone tell you that you don't deserve at least that.

  6. The quoted exchange shows why it would help to have a competent cross examiner, given sufficient time, to ask these questions. Barr evades being pinned down to an answer, and Harris for whatever reason does not effectively pin him down. Which may be why he did not come back the next day. Ya think?

  7. HARRIS: Perhaps they have suggested?

    BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest—

    HARRIS: Hinted?

    BARR: I don't know.

    HARRIS: Inferred? You don't know? Okay.

    "Inferred"? LINK

  8. Somerby’s lack of integrity is shining through in this post. He conveniently disappears the part of the Harris/Barr exchange where Barr struggled to satisfy his instinct not to perjure himself by pretending to not understand the meaning of the word “suggest”. THAT is why Harris offered synonyms - as a courtesy to help Barr define his interactions with Trump. Barr did NOT “seem to be saying no to “suggest”” as Somerby misleadingly claims. Barr was VERY obviously avoiding answering the question so as not to perjure himself. Somerby is just plain wrong in his analysis.

    1. What does any of that have to do with Elliot William's presentation on the Brian Williams show?

      Did Barr not flatly say that no one has asked him to investigate anyone? (BARR
      'They have not asked me to open an investigation."

      Sabrau maybe you should stop smoking so much marijuana and pot. Try to read these posts more carefully and not jump so quickly at anything that moves. The Mueller report, Barr, any controversy about Russian interference is all over. It's game over. Trump won and he won roundly. Picking up the bones of it just further solidifies the next Democratic defeat.

      If I were a liberal I would concentrate on election fraud, corruption, the incompetence of Trump, the failure of Trump to drain the swamp, massive job losses coming soon due to automation, global warming, the massive divide between the rich and the poor instead of focusing on losing issues that you were always wrong about.

    2. No, Barr did not state flatly.

      And the reason this is an issue is because Donald J Chickenshit has been repeatedly pushing to "lock her up".

      As detailed in the Mueller Report:

      Indeed, after months of public badgering by Trump, Sessions complied with his boss’s demand that the Justice Department investigate Hillary Clinton. In November 2017, Sessions instructed the US attorney for Utah, John Huber, to look into several issues related to Trump’s 2016 opponent.

      Sessions’ instructions to Huber were an alarming example of Trump successfully pressuring the nation’s top law enforcement officer into launching an investigation of a political opponent.

      “It looks a lot like an attorney general trying to curry favor with an out-of-control boss,” Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, a liberal government watchdog group, told Mother Jones. “The Department of Justice opened an undefined investigation of Hillary Clinton based on the political demands of Congress and the president, not the existence of new evidence.”

      Sessions’ order to Huber is at the center of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that American Oversight is pursuing in federal court in Washington. The organization charges that senior Justice Department officials, including Huber and former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, acted in “bad faith” in the litigation by denying the existence of written communications conveying Sessions’ instructions to Huber. On Tuesday, the group asked a judge to allow discovery, rare in FOIA cases, so that it can seek additional information it says the department might be concealing.

      This shit is happening. Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, is obsessed with harassing the former Secretary of State.

      I don't know what the fuck is wrong with TDH. It wasn't a crazy question for Harris to ask Barr and his response was far far from reassuring.

      But thanks, Ivan. I always appreciate advise to the "liberals" coming from trump cultists.

    3. Right-wingers are waving away treason against the United States of America.
      In other news, Right-wingers are who we always knew they were.

    4. mm Barr said flatly "Theyhave not asked me to open an investigation."

      But at the windmills, tilt away cretin. I would be taking about Stacy Abram's stolen election.

    5. Snake, he knew how to very carefully and narrowly frame his response. It was clear he was not being candid, was not telling the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. he continued to play his word games, grappling with what the word "suggest" suggests. Ha ha. Of course we know for a fact that this is the way Donald J Chickenshit, the fucking coward, does things. Like clearing the room to remove witnesses when he asked Comey to commit a crime and bend a knee and swear an oath of loyalty to King Kingshit. We know for a fact also that Trump had repeatedly pressed Sessions to open and investigation of Clinton.

      For Fucks Sake, Donald J Chickenshit, Acting President, does it on twitter all the time. Is everyone fucking mad?

    6. Like asking what the meaning of "is" is?

      I'm not trolling you. Go for it man. Get to the bottom of these lies that are contained with this complete non-issue that has gone nowhere for 2 years. Brilliant move.

      Leave issues that are far more interesting and important to average Americans in the dark. Can't you see that for that, they won't trust or support you? Can't you see? Can't you see!?

      I know, dumb question. You can't see. Chase down the lies man from the obstruction of the investigation into the collusion that never happened. Average Americans who are getting crushed by crony capitalism love that! ;)

    7. Snake,
      Because I ca't chew bubble-gum and walk at the same time, I'll stick with something I know for a fact. That's why I'm always writing about how bigoted the Right-wing is in the USA. Everything else is a bit murky.

    8. What a dumb mistake!

    9. Snake,
      The GOP gave huge tax breaks to corporations that were sitting on piles of cash, while Trump proposed a budget cutting the social safety net, and the average American said nothing.
      Who's the one tilting at windmills here?

  9. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-de-blasio-2020-president-white-house-campaign-announcement-20190503-xsjuocb7zfhqxhh5vmoi3dup5q-story.html

    Now we understand why Somerby has been attacking de Blasio's school plan (on behalf of Bernie, presumably). That's what the bros do. Attack the other candidates.

  10. Here is the problem with Barr's refusal to answer this question. Use of the Attorney General's office for partisan purposes will enable Republicans to attack Democratic candidates during the upcoming election. They cannot use the House committees because the House is under Democratic control, but they need investigations to discredit opponents and fuel conservative conspiracy theories.

    Right now they are using Barr's office to discredit the Mueller investigation and make it seem like a hoax perpetrated by Clinton and Obama to take down Trump. But Republicans are also putting forth scandals and conspiracies involving Biden and his son (Biden seems to be the current front-runner and Trump's most feared opponent).

    See, for example: https://washingtonmonthly.com/2019/05/02/joe-biden-is-getting-hillary-ed/

  11. To quote the esteemed James Howard Kunstler:

    "Mr. Barr’s stolid demeanor during the Wednesday session was a refreshing reminder of what it means to be not insane in the long-running lunatic degeneration of national politics. Of course, the reason for the continued hysteria among Democrats is that the two-year solemn inquiry by the august former FBI Director, Mr. Mueller, is being revealed daily as a mendacious fraud with criminal overtones running clear through Democratic ranks beyond even the wicked Hillary Clinton to the sainted former president Obama, who may have supervised his party’s collusion with foreign officials to interfere in the 2016 election."


    I see Mr. Kunstler too is concerned about apparent insanity. But, unlike Bob, he sees where real symptoms manifest themselves: inside the lib-zombie cult.

    Pay attention, Bob.

    1. One after another the media's theories for how Trump was elected are disproven. Notice they don't mention the one which can't be disproven; the nation's love of white supremacy.

    2. Trump wasn't elected. Russians hacked and tampered with voting in three key states (WI, MI, PA) in order to suppress voting for Hillary Clinton. They also depressed her votes by (1) supporting Bernie, (2) waging a fake-news war against her in targeted social media, (3) hacking Podesta's email and releasing them on Wikileaks with Assange's coordination timed to embarrass Clinton. Additionally, Comey helped Trump by issuing several negative statements about Clinton's emails at key points in the campaign. As a result, Trump was put into office despite Clinton's 2.5 million vote margin in the popular vote and everyone's belief that she was ahead and would win. Even Trump didn't expect to win, but the criminal actions of Russians and his campaign staff stole the election from Clinton.

      Somerby's suggestion that disgruntled Obama voters were drawn to Trump by disparaging and elitist comments (by Clinton or anyone else) is not supported by analyses of voting by people such as Nate Silver. Subsequent analyses are ruling out economic reasons for Trump's support and increasingly showing that Trump voters are bigots who voted for Trump due to xenophobia, racism and fear of immigrants and racial minorities, if not out right white supremacists. This is being seen as a backlash against both Obama and demographic changes in the US and the ascendancy of previously third world nations. Hillary was right when she mentioned the deplorables, if unwise to mention it out loud. Trump is a white supremacist attempting to align himself with the alt-right worldwide.

      When Somerby attributes Trump votes to liberal inadequacies, he makes a fool of himself. Nothing liberals said or did lost this election. They would have won handily absent interference. Somerby's machinations make me wonder about his motives. What does he gain by maligning liberals, undermining their confidence in their beliefs and campaign practices? Who benefits from what Somerby says here daily? We should all be suspicious of him by now, just as we should be closely examining everyone who received Russian funding (NRA, many Republicans including McConnell, Nunes, Graham, people like Hannity) and the very real Republican organization infested by Russian influence needs to be revealed. Impeachment may be the vehicle for doing this, or criminal trials, or media investigation, or a combination.

      You might consider whether Somerby's constant attacks on liberal media might be intended to soften public acceptance of their messages in advance of publication of results of such investigations. Confusing people about the trustworthiness of media is a goal of tyrants, before media itself is dismantled in favor of propaganda outlets. What is Somerby's game?

    3. Fascinating. Tell us more dembot, please.

    4. anon 3:09, you're a lunatic.

    5. AC/MA, you don't belong on a liberal blog. You are just another troll voice here. Go away and take David and Mao and Leroy and Cecelia and CMike with you. Trump is ugly enough without his morally retarded brethren cluttering up the comments here.

    6. I thought Anonymous just got done figuring out the Howler is a right wing blog [LINK]:

      Somerby plays this game along with the Republicans. Who does that? People who want to keep Trump in office by pretending there is any kind of drama except the one about how the American people were fleeced in 2016. If he isn't talking about that, he is one of them.
      [END QUOTE]

      Doesn't this mean it's Anonymous who's the troll and the one who should go away?

    7. 309 - Somerby should investigated for sympathies to Russia. A committee should be formed to investigate him and many, many, many others. We can no longer sit back and allow Russian infiltration, Russian indoctrination, Russian subversion, and the international Russian conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

    8. Interesting. This is the first four sentences of the news the day after the deplorables comment:

      1. US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has apologized for calling half of Donald Trump's supporters "deplorable" people.

      2. But the Democrat launched a furious attack on her Republican opponent and promised to keep fighting "bigotry and racist rhetoric".

      3. Mr Trump had responded by saying the comment was "insulting" to "millions of amazing, hard working people".

      4. Opinion polls suggest Mr Trump is gaining on Mrs Clinton.


      1. Clinton pulls back a colossally idiotic, campaign altering gaffe.
      2. Then she whole cloth plays the race card again, unbelievably.
      3. Trump uses her outrageous and stupid claim as an opportunity to compliment potential voters (ouch) while giving people a taste of Hillary's arrogance.
      4. Trump goes up in the polls and she goes down. 10 days later they were as close in the polls as they had ever been,

    9. Clinton's statement is idiotic because she said only half of the Republican are deplorables. It's 95% at least.

    10. Can someone explain again why calling people who elect a self-admitted sexual predator President of the USA "deplorables" is wrong?

      Poor Hillary. First the accuse her of saying anything to be elected. Then they get mad at her when she speaks the truth.

    11. Definitely. The psycho-witch and should run again.

      With her invaluable aides - Wasserman Schultz and the Weiner family - at her side.

      And Creepy Joe for VP!

    12. Mao,
      She'd be in prison right now, if Trump wasn't even more in the pocket of the establishment elite.

    13. "Fascinating. Tell us more dembot, please."

      This is the last gasp of a bunch of white dead-enders who know they are losing their power, so they will look to any charlatan to make them think it isn't going to happen. I look forward to dancing on their graves.

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